The rise of the sales platform
According to Harvard Business Review, a brand is not something you manage over time. It's something you deliver in the moment and is no longer just an identifying mark. Rather, it is something that customers have a relationship with and it is this that has led businesses to consider how to use technology more effectively to manage their brand and its customer relationships.
IDC forecasts spending on CRM applications will reach $31.7B in 2018, attaining a CAGR of 6.9%. The forecast splits the spending across contact centres, customer service, marketing automation and sales automation.
"The development of the brand, its relationships and the central role of the customer has placed a renewed focus on the role and investment into customer-related software. The rise of Salesforce automation (SFA) is one area that has grown in importance and relevance, as businesses grapple with its brand and getting to know the customer on a deeper level," says Quinton Pienaar, CEO, Agilitude, a Salesforce platinum reseller and customer experience evangelist.
In congruence with this brand shift, IDC has reported that CMOs are starting to redefine the direction of marketing spending based on customer inquiry calls and their analysis of the CRM market. Pienaar says this is exactly what should be happening: "Industry should be listening to customers and adapting business strategies accordingly, while looking at ways to more effectively utilise software to assist in the process."
Understandably, then, it is no surprise to learn that over the last 10 years, marketing has seen what could be the greatest explosion of technology of any business function in history.
"IDC has correctly predicted the trend and fundamental shift from point solutions to platforms. While it is a significant departure, the rise of the platform is powerful. It creates a single, connected experience for every user. It's a truly connected platform, built for a connected world," says Pienaar.
He says there is no doubt the future of software and technology lies in platforms. According to www.platformthinkinglabs.com, business leaders are developing platforms that connect diverse participants with one another and enable them to interact and transact. This means that on the Internet, anyone can be a producer. Today's network platforms aid the creation of entirely new markets by connecting producers and consumers with each other.
"This makes the job of the brand and its custodians even tougher and the role of platform technology all the more important," says Pienaar.
He says it is the use of this powerful platform that makes Salesforce automation so significant moving forward: "It is part of a digital transformation taking place globally. The businesses that embrace platforms and the resulting technology will be drivers of innovation and will have a very compelling competitive advantage."